Isaac Hoskins – Bender
Recorded in Austin by Gordy Quist (backing vocals) these 10 tracks released on Bender (November 18 – Independent) by Isaac Hoskins (acoustic guitar/vocals) are steeped in a deep country tradition. Musically the retro sound is highly polished despite the typical old-school approach. Hoskins manages to transcend it & use such archetypal topics/language to his advantage by simply being an extremely talented performer.
Part C. W. McCall (“Convoy”) & Johnny Bond (“Hot Rod Lincoln”) but not as novelty-oriented as those artists. Hoskins will appeal to the saloon stompers, tire-hitting truckers, mud-encrusted cowboys, ranch hands with callouses on top of callouses & angels in chambray. Is that bad? Not at all. They’re a viable good audience & Hoskins has an authentic vocal that appeals to that labor-intensive listener. God bless them all.
The band has a 70s country-bar style — a bit tighter than the average bar band. They mix up the musical sauce nicely with visits to Johnny Horton-Jimmy Dean-type methods that have grit but not without the muscle. “Back To The Saltmine” — instead of refineries, coal mines, cottonfields, & bread lines.
With “Panhandle Wind,” the Oklahoma native dabbles in Rocky Burnette’s (“Tired of Toein’ the Line”) land. This has energy, & retro lyrics that sound just as engaging today. It has the necessary dance engagement for shaky legs. It’s fun.
The ballad “My Memory” has sophistication in a Willie Nelson manner with Nelson’s inflections & tone. Though the melody progression itself will be mindful of many other past country songs it is a beautiful one, nonetheless.
Isaac’s music’s been featured in the 5th season of “Yellowstone.” He’s an appropriate singer for such a series & Hoskins looks like he stepped out of the country & western past because there’s unfinished business.
City folk might find his material hokey, because of the consistent pedal steel guitar’s old whiney tone. But with a closer listen, the quality is evident. Hoskins has style. He doesn’t wear country & western costumes with spangles, he’s strictly denim & boots. Closer to a red dirt farmer than a spanking clean Gene Autry.
“The Pistol & The Prayer,” is solid & also in the tradition of 60s country purveyors like Jimmy Dean (“Big Bad John”), maybe even Boxcar Willie (who was better than most would think). Songs like “Moments I Would Never Trade,” should become a classic. A signature song. Excellent.
Musicians: Jesse Noah Wilson (bass), Richard Millsap (drums), Geoff Queen (electric & pedal steel guitar/dobro), Noah Jeffries (fiddle/mandolin), Trevor Nealon (organ/piano/Wurlitzer/mellotron) & Katrina Cain (bgv).
Highlights: “H-Town Turnaround,” “Back To The Saltmine” “Panhandle Wind,” “My Memory,” “Harder Than The Blues,” “Moments I Would Never Trade,” “The Pistol & The Prayer” & “Off the Wagon.”
Color/B&W images by Peter Salisbury. CD @ https://www.isaachoskins.net/listen